Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Monday recognized two colleagues who came to the chamber in different ways yet left their mark on the institution and the legislation it passed.
Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward, stepped into his father Samuel’s seat 31 years ago, then won re-election eight times. Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, won his 2011 election as an independent after the Democratic incumbent lost to a former alderman who had been recalled. He ran for re-election in 2015 as a Democrat.
The two men were very different personality-wise. Ogilvie spoke frequently on legislation — especially bills related to development — often standing at the microphone with his hands on his hips. Kennedy rarely spoke, and when he did, you could hear a pin drop in the chamber.
On Monday, Kennedy had words of praise for his younger colleague.
"What I have seen is growth as a person. You are a more enriched human being than when you first came here," Kennedy said. "And that is more important to me than simply the political position you took, or how erudite you were on the topic. I can say congratulations on your work here and wish you luck on your future endeavours.”
Ogilvie, who represented the neighborhoods south of Forest Park, is perhaps best known for a 2016 attempt to allow city residents to own emus, sheep and goats. He also was a pivotal vote in 2017 that set the stage for aldermen to approve a new tax for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium. (Voters later defeated that tax.)
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to get to do this job, to be a member of local government,” Ogilvie said. “It really was an opportunity to learn more and grow as a person, and hopefully I did right by voters in the ward.”
Moments later, it was Kennedy enjoying the praise of colleagues as he wrapped up decades of service to the 18th Ward, which straddles Delmar just north of the Central West End.
“Even though we’re all typically in the same party down here, we are often polarized on issues,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward. “Alderman Kennedy, you lead us by example, by differing in opinion with humility and with humanity.”
Alderman Shane Cohn, D-25th Ward, was the first openly gay person elected to the board. Kennedy, he said, was the first person he felt comfortable talking to about issues facing the LGBTQ community.
“Oftentimes in our society, there’s buzzwords of diversity or inclusion or equity. Alderman Kennedy lives those values every single day,” he told the chamber.
Kennedy was a champion of public safety and civil rights issues, leading the 30-year effort to approve a civilian oversight board for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He also helped establish the city’s minority contracting requirements for public projects and provided critical support to Cohn’s bill to boost the minimum wage in the city of St. Louis. (Missouri lawmakers later reversed the increase.)
But he was also a student of history, especially that of his own family and how it shaped him.
Kennedy’s mother’s family was descended from slaves brought over by a Frenchman. His father escaped the East St. Louis race riots. That history, he said, makes the fact that he was elected to the Board of Aldermen even once “a miracle.”
“If we’ve done anything of beauty and value, all praise is due to the ancestors,” he said. “For only the mistakes were mine.”
Kennedy will remain at the board as its first African American clerk. Ogilvie has not yet announced his future plans.
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